No 1621 20th December 2022
Workers’ strike determination against capitalist slump is excellent but until serious revolutionary politics are studied will only tread water at best in wages terms, while ever worsening austerity cuts drive general conditions into penury and despair. Fragmentation and separation of union actions by the opportunist and treacherous TUC is a major weakness, threatening defeat and demoralisation. But the real problem facing workers is lack of understanding of the Catastrophic crisis and the degeneracy of the capitalist order driving the world towards total war (WW3) in its desperation to escape it. The vital fight to overturn the decadent, corrupt and incompetent ruling class can get nowhere while the working class remains hoodwinked with lies about “freedom and democracy” and stampeded into jingoist hatred of others behind Nazi-NATO and the gross depravity of Kiev’s fascist nationalists rather than calling for their defeat. Labour and TUC repeat anti-communist lies and hatred of workers states making them the enemy of the working class too. But worldwide struggle is rising and capitalism is doomed.
Rail union leader Mick Lynch’s calling-out of the BBC’s grossly reactionary bias on the Radio 4 Today programme is a useful if long overdue denunciation of the state-owned and controlled media.
But Lynch’s scathing comments are still only the feeblest of bleats against this brutal capitalist system, now forcing wave after wave of the working class into strike action against it as living standards are driven down into poverty and desperation, even in the richest countries on the planet.
His “shock” reflects the useless compromises and near-pleading of the reformist trade union tradition, still asking for “better treatment”, while failing to give the working class the slightest warning of the total worldwide breakdown Catastrophe they are facing and still propping up the TUC/Labourite class-collaboration which has hoodwinked, fooled (and corrupted) workers for a century and a half, corralling them in behind the “Empire”, chauvinist delusions about “British greatness” and lies about “democracy”.
Above all it avoids revolutionary politics, and the fight for communism, the only way out of this rapidly deepening war-ravaged crisis, still fostering instead the narrow craft union traditions of the past which keep workers separated and looking after only their “own” sectional interests, ignoring the unemployed, unskilled, destitute and precarious, and wasting the great strength of the working class united as a class.
Certainly the “intrepid” poking and prodding of the media interviewers should be scathingly rejected as nothing more than aggressive middle-class “populist” sentiment (fascism), soaked in narrow complacency and concerned only with its own petty bourgeois subjective comforts, built on centuries of world exploitation of workers abroad and domestically.
Their daily provocative sneering against any even halfway anti-establishment politics and action is just grovelling to the vilest of Tory ruling class arrogance and anti-working class repressiveness, as the bourgeoisie goes about tearing up all pretences of “human rights” and democracy with deepening police anti-protest repression and surveillance, and savage “austerity”.
It deserves nothing but the most vigorous philosophical and political kicking:
Appearing on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Lynch accused the presenter Mishal Husain of showing bias when he was pressed on the average amount of pay lost by union members through strike action.
Asked to put a figure on the financial “sacrifice” he has said his workers have suffered, he said: “That depends on what shifts they were working, what rate of pay they earn and how many occasions they have to go out.”
He added: “What I do find annoying though, Mishal, is that you put these lines that are directly taken from the propaganda of the other side. You never show any admiration for the fight that working people are putting up in this country for the rebalancing of our society.
“You never criticise the super-rich for what they’re doing to nurses, what they’re doing to postal workers, and you never seem to take an impartial view on the way this society is balanced at the moment with the complete lack of distribution of wealth in our society.
“You always just seem to punt out anything you receive from the employers and from the government, and that’s what I’m hearing directly through the filter of the BBC this morning.”
Husain replied: “The question was about the average amount of pay lost by your members through strike action … You’ve said your members are making a sacrifice … What’s wrong with putting a number on it?”
“Why do you need that number?” Lynch replied, before likening the BBC’s coverage to “an editorial line I could read in the Sun or the Daily Mail or any of the rightwing press in this country”.
He added: “I find this a shocking stance that the BBC will take – you’re just parroting the most rightwing stuff you can get hold of on behalf of the establishment, and it’s about time you showed some partiality towards your listeners, to working-class people in this country who are being screwed to the floor by the attitudes and policies of this government.”.
“Annoying”, however, does not come remotely near exposing the deluge of stinking sewage hatred and lies that pours out non-stop from every orifice of bourgeois media, the state-owned or subsidy controlled sectors like the BBC or Channel Four, the billionaire-owned TV stations, newspaper and “social media”, and most sinisterly of all, the “liberal” middle-class newspapers, poisoning minds with anti-communist (called “totalitarian”) individualist hatred under cover of eco-protest, feminism, gay rights, and a dozen other single-issue causes.
Much more. Every facet of the media machine is part of repeating, magnifying and embroidering the non-stop state psyops and intelligence agency lies, exaggerations and manipulative propaganda which has been at the forefront of monopoly capitalist might-is-right bullying colonialist tyranny for decades to justify the endless blitzing, warmongering, coup-making and butchery which keeps the Third World under the hammer, and which is now stampeding public opinion once again behind the Nazi-Nato proxy war on Russia in Ukraine and against multiple other scapegoat targets (Iran currently, China, Venezuela etc).
It plays the sickest of roles pumping out vicious lies and chauvinist hatred to whip up world war (which the NATO-Ukraine nazism is part of, the next stage after Serbia in 1999 and destruction of half a dozen countries in the Middle East), a war deliberately incited and caused by Western imperialism to divert attention from, and provide scapegoats for, the great collapse and implosion of the monopoly capitalist system, lyingly blaming its own economic and social disintegration and sick barbaric chaos on “others” and “authoritarians” (Putin first and foremost at present).
Total lies are told about capitalism’s supposed “democracy” and “freedom” even as dozens of tinpot fascist dictators have been bribed for decades to serve Western interests or mostly were set up anyway by imperialism and then kept in place with endless credit-fuelled military and financial aid across a slew of Latin Americans (Haïti, El Salvador, Guatemala, Chile’s Pinochet, Colombia, decades of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay etc etc etc) to monsters like Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines (the family back in power under recently elected son Bong Bong), Mobutu in the Congo, in the Portuguese colonies Mozambique, and Angola (before toppling), in oil-plundered Nigeria, and throughout the Middle East, notably in Saudi Arabia, in Egypt, Iran for decades under the Shah, Saddam in Iraq, and biggest of all the entire Jewish occupation of Palestine from 1947 onwards maintaining not only its brutal land-thieving rule by non-stop genocidal persecution and massacring of the indigenous population, but also smiting the whole Arab world on behalf of the US imperialist interests that Zionism is intertwined with (see EPSR Book Vol.20 Palestine, Zionism and the fraud of “left anti-semitism”)
All and more, have been excused, ignored or painted in rainbow colours by the capitalist media machine, consciously repeating the outright lies and cover-ups of Western intelligence and its bourgeois state dictatorship masters.
But every attempt by the masses to get out from under by building a workers state or anti-imperialist government, firmly holding down such tyranny with the working class force needed (dictatorship of the proletariat), – the whole Soviet camp in eastern Europe, Cuba, Vietnam, China, North Korea, Grenada, or getting there like Venezuela, Bolivia, Libya, Angola, Iran and Syria to some variable extent, Zimbabwe, Myanmar, etc etc – has been declared a blacker-than-black “rogue state” or “warcriminals” (mostly based on total fabrications, misattributions, distortion and ludicrous exaggeration, with the imperialist propaganda turning reality on its head blaming its own sick, degenerate atrocities, terrorising crimes and warcrimes onto the victims or those in struggle).
Workers state firmness and, necessarily sometimes forceful, suppression of counter-revolution, and unavoidably violent resistance to oppression in many countries is always declared “criminal” or “terrorist”, to be blitzed and bombed, death-squaded and tortured, or just terrorised by arbitrary civilian massacre, as the SAS is again being exposed for in Afghanistan (as usual denied and whitewashed by the Ministry of “Defence”).
Or they are broken up and left to rot like Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Afghanistan and the Yemen; or subjected to permanent deprivation, barbaric persecution and killing and even all-out genocidal butchery, torture and repression like that which has non-stop persecuted the dispossessed Palestinians ever since their land was stolen by the Jewish occupation (sanctified by Western decree); or see thousands and thousands imprisoned, tortured and executed as in Egypt under the brutal General Sisi dictatorship, (and Mubarak before) or devastated like half the countries of Africa (Mozambique, Angola, CAR, French Africa and the Sahel, the Congo etc etc), struggles in India (and Kashmir), most of Latin America, Indonesia, the Philippines and many more.
Overall this exercise in mass brainwashing against communism, sustained for over 100 years, has been the greatest propaganda lie in history, and its hoodwinking fraud about Western “freedom” remains the greatest weapon the ruling class has, keeping the working class trapped behind its gigantic confidence trick of “democracy” and “the rule of law” (none of which exist for workers anywhere and especially not for the enslaved masses of the Third World in its sweatshops and on its plantations) versus alleged “totalitarianism” (meaning working class dominance, discipline and authority, hated by the bourgeoisie).
It could be argued that Lynch tactically has to play it politely to avoid giving the hypocritical bourgeois media an excuse to please the Tory “heartlands” reactionary mob and more backward petty bourgeois influenced sections of the working class, by banning his interviews.
But even if that could explain this tepid two-pennyworth being too little and too late, it would still be completely invalidated by his own crass railings against the workers states (past and present) and his ignorant backwardness about “totalitarianism” pandering to the worst prejudices and lies about world anti-imperialist struggle.
There is nothing “tactically clever” nor “necessary” in giving press interviews laced with poisonous and philistine remarks about “regimes that slaughter people” being little more than “death cults” as he has declared various times, not only repudiating the current surging anti-imperialist struggle worldwide (labelled terrorist) , but hostile to the titanic and irreversible advances of the past century of revolution and class war challenges to imperialism.
He is not obliquely referring to capitalist tyrants like the feudal-tribal killer-gangster Prince Salman of Saudi Arabia and numerous other capitalist dictatorships (overt or hidden behind “parliaments”).
His aim was directed against the gigantic historical achievements of the Soviet Union, where the Bolshevik revolutions of 1917 stopped three years of the First World War’s blood and mud horror-without-end by overthrowing the imperialist ruling class and its mechanised slaughter of millions and millions in pursuit of profit and colonialist plunder (Lenin), not only bringing its destruction and butchery to a halt but going on to build a firm workers state which would prove for the first time that the world could move forwards without an owning class, without a bourgeoisie, without bosses, without billionaires and propertied rulers.
And proving not just that it could move forwards without “private ownership” but could take giant steps on into the future by beginning to built a rational and fair society, tapping the talents and potential of the entire population with stunning artistic, cultural, societal, scientific and economic achievements to its name which within 15 years were already outpacing in some ways the imperialist world and its guiding “free market” capitalism, by then slipping into devastating crash and the 1930s Depression, fascism and war.
This same communist state which Lynch can find nothing but bilious nastiness for, started from the lowest levels of Tsarist feudal backwardness and even that almost totally shattered by the First World War but went on even more heroically to inspire the masses everywhere with its development.
It was able then to aid and help struggles like China and the Spanish Republic in its 1936-9 tragic losing battle for survival against the Franco fascists before facing the full imperialist onslaught itself from Hitler-Nazi aggression, built up and encouraged by the entire West, primarily to end this working class leap forwards, eventually defeating Hitler’s horrors and bringing to an end the second, much more deadly, 1939-45 world war at a cost of 26+ million of its own people.
After that titanic victory, virtually repeating the Russian revolution all over again on an even greater scale, it then sustained and aided huge advances of world struggle post-war with its own giant educational, scientific industrial and military advances, bringing its war-shattered remnants (the western USSR totally blitz and shell demolished) to a parity with the capitalist world – and all without the advantages of the huge US Marshall Plan dollar investments used to revive Western Europe and without the ruthless exploitation of the Third World which funded imperialism.
From then on it exerted continuing pressure on imperialism, balancing its terrifying nuclear encirclement enough to force the now US-dominated Western powers to hold back (to some extent) from their all-out slave-driving colonial impositions throughout the decades of the Cold War, sheltering, stimulating and providing massive material support for the anti-colonial movement, training hundreds of thousands of their people both civil and military and donating huge aid projects such as the Aswan Dam in Egypt, massive technical and educational development in Afghanistan (men and women), in Ethiopia, and arms and assistance for multiple struggles, not least Korea and Vietnam and Cuba.
Those anti-imperialist and sometimes communist revolts themselves have made staggering levels of mass sacrifice and bitter struggles to push forwards world anti-imperialism, not least of course in the Vietnam war (four million killed by US-led barbarity and many more poisoned with Agent Orange, maimed, and bereaved), in the Korean war (two million at least), in China’s revolution over three decades (millions butchered by Japan and the US funded Kuomintang (still causing dangerous imperialist disruption from Taiwan)), in South Africa, in Cuba, Zimbabwe’s brilliant revolution against the Smith Selous Scout fascists, plus untold numbers killed in the counter-revolutions imposed by the West (among others at least two million communist and communist-supporting masses systematically executed in Indonesia in 1965 with CIA and MI6 guidance, and the hundreds of thousands later killed in East Timor by the subsequently installed stooge dictator Suharto’s annexation of the former Portuguese colony; in the Greek civil war of 1945-9; in the Malayan war; in Kenya; (the last three run by the Labourites) or by gruesome massacres and mass killing in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, under fascist regimes in Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Brazil, and Venezuela; in Burma (now Myanmar), in brutal US invasions of Grenada, Panama and in the non-stop barbaric counter-revolution against the FARC in Colombia, against all kinds of local trade unionists and community activists, still continuing despite a supposed “peace settlement” and the election of an alleged “left” president.
And the list could go on through up to 500 interventions, manipulations, “colour revolution” stunts, coups, wars, invasions and terror-sabotage by mostly US dominated imperialism.
Certainly mistakes were made in the Soviet Union; compounded by the efforts to contain non-stop counter-revolution some were criminally paranoid.
Those were not the worst problem however. That was long-developing and ultimately disastrous philosophical flaws and retreats from revolutionary firmness by Moscow from the late 1920s onwards, even as it was continuing and leading the huge and brilliant mobilisation of the masses behind the dictatorship of the proletariat, making successful, hard won economic transformations and building up the resistance which allowed it to survive the great Hitlerite onslaught and decades of nuclear encirclement.
The errors need to be analysed and confronted clearly and honestly, as the EPSR has attempted to do in its 40+ year struggle to re-found the Leninist revolutionary understanding (see EPSR books Vol 13 on Gorbachevism and Vol 21 Unanswered Polemics against Stalinist Revisionism) that is vital for civilisation to move forwards from the great disaster it is now facing as capitalism becomes ever more entangled in contradictions and destructive paralysis.
As grasped and fought for against every kind of fake-“left” confusion, defeatism and opportunism (abandonment of insistence on revolution which must always be at the core of leadership) the Leninist understanding is that the failure (or rather, the limit to success) of the first great 70 years long uprising to end the historically bankrupt and degenerate capitalist “free market” order, was founded in a misreading of imperialism’s capacity to continue expanding, despite its overall historic crisis.
The consequent retreat from Lenin’s central understanding of inevitable collapse into World War (as opposed to Stalin’s view of capitalism’s non-stop belligerent tendencies breaking out into piecemeal wars, now and then, here and there) saw Moscow advocating permanent peaceful coexistence with imperialism, with an associated steady “step-by-step” overtaking of capitalist technology and its ultimate failure in capacity to provide.
Soviet leadership essentially gave up the Leninist perspective that the ever intensifying contradictions of historically developed capitalism can only bring it to a point of paralysis and breakdown as it is swamped by “over-production” and the impossibility of continued profit making (see economics box).
Letting go of this revolutionary understanding discovered and developed by Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and Lenin at the head of the Bolshevik party (the crucial instrument for the constant polemical advance of Marxist science), led to the deepening revisionist mistakes under Stalin, around the notion of “containing” capitalist belligerence with “peace struggles”, and from there the notion of an eventual path to a socialist world future without revolutionary turmoil.
It was compounded by Kruschevite floundering and ultimately on to the 1989-91 liquidation of the USSR through the (by now) brain dead “peaceful progress” bureaucratic stupidities of the Gorbachevites, abandoning the vast gains of the disciplined proletarian state for the idiot notions of the “free market” and bourgeois “democracy”.
The disastrous mess made of the former Soviet Union by the monopoly capitalist plundering, which has followed, does not invalidate any of the achievements of its huge working class sacrifices and struggles over the 73 years of its existence and the inspiration it gave and continues to give.
But the defeatist gibberish of Moscow’s revisionism has been damaging, as revolutionary perspectives and action were often actively discouraged in struggles around the world, declared unnecessarily “provocative” or adventurous (as Fidel Castro’s heroic armed fight initially was advised against for example) as if imperialism would hold back and “be reasonable” if not “upset”.
Such deadly advice is still being given for multiple struggles by revisionist influenced leaderships including some of the most determined and biggest remaining anti-imperialists like Beijing.
The same brilliant Castro leadership in Havana which ignored the revisionist caution for example, itself backed completely the wrong side in the 1983 Grenada invasion by the US, blaming the Leninist faction of the New Jewel Movement under Bernard Coard for opening the island’s revolution up to Reagan’s invasion rather than the coup attempt by the indisciplined Maurice Bishop and his defiance of collective party decisions (see EPSR Book Vol 12 on Grenada).
And its revisionist limits have subsequently led it to advise the Colombian FARC revolutionary army to wind down its armed struggle and turn to parliamentary methods, with disastrous consequences for hundreds of assassinated local activists and some ex-FARC members themselves.
But disastrous as those recommendations have been it is still the sickest of contempt, complacency and imperialist contaminated arrogance to declare this entire 20th century of gigantic and heroic sacrifice and struggle to be nothing more than the actions of some dreadful psychosis, swallowing all the gross lies poured out by capitalism against the communist states, even as its own system was continuing its non-stop barbaric repression and exploitation across the world, destroying tens of millions of lives annually directly or through the imposition of starvation, disease and the wage and/or actual slavery which keeps Lynch and his ilk in well-paid salaries and conditions, and the West generally bought off with the crumbs from the imperialist super-profits ripped out the downtrodden billions.
The working class needs such crude hostility to the giant achievements of the proletariat over the last century (and continuing in China, North Korea, Vietnam and Cuba) – and the vast sacrifices it has made along with the wider anti-imperialist struggle too – like it needs a hole in the head (which imperialism supplies by the million every year or the equivalent).
Not just from Lynch but from the entire TUC bureaucracy and the Labourite political movement it spawned, this is anti-communism personified, and deadly for the future of the entire working class (see EPSR Books Vol 10 against “trade-unionism” (as a philosophy) Reformist socialism is finished).
The “militancy” of Lynch and other “left” union leaders is nothing but giant posturing which they are forced into, to reflect growing spontaneous and genuine willingness of the ordinary working class to fight against the disgusting and vicious slump and the great Catastrophe of world capitalist collapse as it accelerates and intensifies, making lives not only a misery but increasingly impossible at all as the working class is driven to the wall – threatened with hunger, cold, deprivation and a bleak existence where all social provision (libraries, local services etc) have been shut down and taken away.
Limiting the fight in the TUC’s piecemeal way is just leading workers up the garden path, deliberately fooling them that it is possible to “win the fight” and to ameliorate the impact of the Slump – and that Labourism (with some “left pressure”) will then “manage the economy” better so that not only can the slump impacts be softened but life can be improved eventually (after Labour too puts through “unfortunately necessary” austerity measures).
It is all the most disgusting and cynical garbage knowingly fostered by the Labourites and the comfortable TUC bureaucracy.
As Marxism makes clear there is not, and cannot be, any return to “normality” however “well managed” the economy (which is impossible overall and would also be a staggering reversal in itself after 50 years of declining British imperialist capacities and competitiveness, compared to the rest of the imperialist big guns, also in serious crisis decline but less so than Britain).
Capitalism is collapsing completely, and almost certainly finally, sucked into a vortex of international economic downturn and bankruptcy that is unstoppable, this side of the greatest destructive war in all history, in some form or other, on a scale as far beyond the Second World War as that was beyond the 1914-18 conflict, a Great War too but still limited to Europe and only (!!!) with one third the casualties of WW2.
TUC cynicism and philistine backwardness will not say this, still saturated in all the past illusions created by a century and a half of class-collaboration and “deals” with the ruling class and the bosses, with there being a “fair day’s pay” etc and a “fair share” to be had.
That was always only a “fair share” of the superprofits from empire essentially, and only winnable for a limited period historically because of the supremacy of a few major imperialist powers, able to afford a few crumbs on better wages, for some workers, and a few reforms, to head off any deep revolt.
While hard fought for and at great and bitter sacrifice by ordinary workers, these gains nevertheless dragged the working class in behind the ruling class in the imperialist countries and Britain as the once leading power, above all.
Effectively they are participating in the plunder and exploitation of the Third World, inculcating all kinds of backward chauvinism and jingoism, racism and exclusionary attitudes.
Exactly such a line underlies the arguments just recently put forwards by the union representing the Felixstowe dockworkers suggesting that the company was “doing very well” and could “afford” a better settlement.
And if a company is not doing very well (as is increasingly the situation in bankrupt monopoly capitalism, and especially weaker competitors like Britain)??
Such class collaborating illusions go much further of course, all the way to assuming the working class is “entitled” to a welfare state, with a health service, unemployment benefit cushions, pensions, and all the other “benefits” promised by reformism, which it is unspokenly assumed, will continue, and gradually improve.
No such thing.
These were only ever gained for the working class because of revolutionary movement particularly as emerged from the two great world wars, and particularly in the Bolshevik revolutions in Russia, but also throughout the working class everywhere, sickened by the slaughter and inhumanity of imperialist war.
They are fully reversible until the working class takes over completely and builds a totally different classless kind of society and with far different philosophical aims too, i.e. not simply a return to the consumerist philistinism which now prevails.
Leninism has always made clear it is not against reformist progress where gains can be won, but underlines that it is never achieved by “reformism” as such, but by the retreats of the ruling class in face of revolution to head it off.
Nor is it against spontaneous struggles and demands in whatever form they erupt.
But it makes clear that all struggles need to be led and informed by the broadest possible revolutionary perspectives, so that whatever the immediate outcome in winning or holding steady, wages or conditions, or losing ground, the working class will make the most important gain, the growing consciousness of the real necessity it faces of overturning the whole capitalist system.
The need is to build a theoretical (Leninist) leadership for that gigantic struggle already spontaneously underway in all kinds of ways here and internationally (“jihadism”, mass street revolts, riots, Haïtian “gang” rebellion).
Not eventually (as some fake-“left”s say, pretending Marxism but excusing themselves from the necessity for battling now for revolutionary understanding) but immediately and unavoidably, the working class confronts a bourgeoisie which is so pressured by the ever-intensifying worldwide crisis collapse of the system (see box) and the ever more cutthroat trade war between the major monopoly power blocs, that it has no choice but vicious class war conflict to try to rescind and dismantle all past concessions.
If it can it will and must drive the working class down to the lowest possible level of raw exploitation (with not even the brutality of workcamps and forced labour of the WW2 period ruled out).
The bourgeoisie is unable to take the world anywhere but into barbaric chaos and hate-filled destruction as the competing monopoly blocs are forced to slug it out, a vicious turmoil that is both deadly and a sign of its weakness and collapse.
Understanding that full perspective is an ever more crucial requirement if workers are not to be demoralised and set back in the coming struggles, erupting both at home and worldwide.
Nothing will stop workers’ spontaneous actions, and here and there they might yet achieve some partial or even complete success (the engineering workers at Rolls-Royce just receiving a 17% settlement for example – though even that has an element of divide-and-rule elitism to it).
But overall the scale of the crisis makes it impossible to return to the conditions of the past (which anyway in even the best of times were never more than a alienated hire-and-fire ratrace leaving a large proportion of the working class as “losers”).
The working class in Britain and the other “advanced” powers, faces a historic conflict on a scale it has not had to deal with throughout the imperialist period of late monopoly capitalism.
Better, more determined and coordinated strike action, or firmer leadership to defy government anti-union restrictions, censorship and police repression, as just suggested to meetings of rail union members by former NUM leader Arthur Scargill are obviously important but no answer to the paralysing Catastrophe forcing the hand of the ruling class.
Important though all such organisational issues remain, they go no further than the same old syndicalism which has already shown its ultimate limitations in the great heroic miners strike of 1984-5, the great conflict which made clear the need for a higher level of understanding to guide the class war.
Or rather did not make it consciously clear.
Scargill’s leadership then was better than much of the opportunism of the other trade union/Labourism around – exposing the secret plans of the Tories to wilfully dismantle the coal industry for political purposes, i.e. castrating the toughest militancy in the working class (and thereby all the working class) but it still fell massively short with its reformist demand for a “Plan for Coal” and naïve faith that a Labour Government would implement it.
Grovelling petty bourgeois Labour opportunism has only ever served the interests of the fatcat bourgeoisie and its state, and neither would, nor could, provide such an expensive programme at a point where British imperialism was more and more losing its world competitive position as the unfolding crisis gathered pace in the 1980s towards the great global collapse in 2008.
Scargill’s later push beyond treacherous Labourism with the formation of the Socialist Labour Party, despite early anti-capitalist promise, has never overcome the old bureaucratic trade union tradition either, as the EPSR explained in 2004 having made a dogged effort to help build the SLP initially, before being expelled for refusing to shut down its revolutionary commentary and analysis (Issue No 1219). Of the miners strike it said:–
The conclusions workers have alone been left with are either that another similar epic sacrifice by the working class would be a good thing some time, totally wiping out yet more brave workers communities which embodied some of the finest class spirit of the proletariat in Britain; or that the attachment to Labour Party politics really was the giant flaw in the whole miners strike struggle, condemning it to defeat from the start, but that replacing Labour by the SLP in workers’ affections and aspirations would make another such strike a really sound proposition now.
Both variants are an absolute catastrophe of further missed opportunities for learning priceless REVOLUTIONARY LESSONS in anti-imperialist struggle for the working class.
This is nothing to do with any crude mechanistic reductionism arguing that the ‘war’ for the right to picket, resisting the full might of the police state machinery, would have been better off if fought consciously for the seizure of government power in Britain, there and then.
Obviously, it was indeed pointless to have dragged the working class through an 18 month civil war against the full force of the police state machine, only to lose on the picketing right issue because of all the time fighting with one hand behind the back on the miners’ side, and then only to reach the realisation that the police-state/Tory/Labour/TUC establishment was NEVER going to let workers’ militancy, however justified, win on that basis anyway, therefore requiring the whole 18 month civil war to be gone through AGAIN, only this time with the working class fighting with the miners using BOTH hands for the power struggle.
THAT understanding (a matured revolutionary one) was probably not a realistic possibility at that time.
BUT neither was that completed version of revolutionary understanding necessarily needed at that time.
Truly colossal historical progress for serious and growing anti-imperialist revolutionary consciousness among workers could have begun to flow just from workers being given the FULL POLITICAL CONTEXT of that epic 1984 class war.
Scargill finally saw aspects of Labour reformism as merely part of imperialist police state never-ending tyranny ONLY when publicly forming the SLP in 1996.
But Marxist science and generations of good British working class communists and trade unionists had understood this and had FOUGHT capitalism on this basis for decades before 1984.
The miners strike should have been fought exactly on that basis, and NOT on the basis that a restored Labour Government and a restored reformist PLAN for COAL, both consciously supportive of working class mining interests (as perceived), were remotely possible, made (im)possible by the steady post-1945 international maturing of insoluble imperialist system crisis which was slowly going to make the whole “reformist” delusion in the world utterly REDUNDANT.
Picketing to keep the pits open could have still been picketing to keep the pits open, but done on the basis that insoluble economic crisis would steadily be giving the Western imperialist system, loyally supported as ever by the Labour Party and the TUC, no choice but to steadily destroy all “reformist” concessions to the working class in order to allow unrestrained cut-throat market competitiveness back into the “free world” system for Britain to survive at all within a capitalist world economy.
That would have meant that the “legitimate” miners strike consciousness was ALREADY, there and then, about incipient REVOLUTIONARY consciousness for state power in Britain (or working class interests versus capitalist interests) right from the start.
Even better if this had been consciously made a fight for international working class interests (including workers state communist interests) against international imperialist interests from the start, which could have been well within existing NUM consciousness had the miners’ traditionally good leadership been even better.
It is not one man’s responsibility that it wasn’t, but it is definitely the rotten philistine traditions of fake-‘left’ Scargillism on questions of political theory which were undoubtedly an unnecessary extra burden for the working class to bear in 1984, and a lesson which still refuses to be learnt.
Scargill’s call now for RMT workers to stand up to Tory repression and defy anti-union measures is better than some in the TUC but as limited as ever, and still saturated in Little Englanderist attitudes defending “British jobs” (at the expense of workers’ jobs in the rest of the world) and pandering to the “sovereign rights” notions espoused by the reactionary Brexiteers.
Blaming the European “bosses club” for the problems besetting workers instead of the monopoly capitalist system itself, whose great multi-national combines and banks will ruthlessly force down the working class whether they are based in Brussels, out of New York and San Francisco, from Tokyo or even from Dehli, São Paolo, Qatar or Dubai, is to play into the hands of the jingoist weapon being wielded by the ruling class to help get it off the hook of crisis.
Calls for protectionist measures and import controls only feed international hostility, and warmongering.
And if unlike Lynch and the TUC majority Scargill has just about got it right opposing the monstrous war on Russia, his continuing hostility to theory and thereby internationalist understanding undermines even that instinctive class position, based on pro-Soviet nostalgia (like the museum-Stalinist Lalkar/Proletarian which backed him up for six years after he had shut the EPSR theory outside the SLP by expelling then leader Roy Bull – issue No 975), being wrong on supporting the Bonapartist nonsense from Putin rather than just calling for defeat of the NATO-Ukraine nazi onslaught – see last issue of EPSR).
Even if some of the currently explosive struggles might force the ruling class back a pace, it is by no means guaranteed, almost certainly only partially, if at all, and only for a minority and that only temporarily.
The Bolshevik understanding is that there can be only two “resolutions” to an inexorably intensifying crisis as the great contradictions grow (most obviously that of class against class): either there must be total destruction of the “surplus capital” blocking further development, which is the capitalist answer of slump, trade war, forced bankruptcies and eventually all-out war devastation, allowing a “renewal” of the capitalist market on the smouldering or radioactive wreckage (effectively taking what remains of society backwards for the survivors and “winners” to start over, with a yet more intensified monopoly expansion until that implodes too); or there must be a complete overthrow of this insane nonsense insisted on by the profiteering ruling class, through a scientifically led mass class war to establish a new form of cooperative common ownership society with a rational planned development of production and the society around it, in harmony with nature and leaving not one single individual behind.
How that proceeds is unfolding day-by-day, and all its constantly moving and mind-bending complexities need grasping and updating continuously in the only way possible, the building of a party of revolutionary science, deeply studied and advanced through constant polemical struggle by its cadres.
Crucially that grasp of the constantly shifting balance of class forces needs to span the world, and the explosive stirrings of anti-imperialist struggle everywhere.
It is only with such a wide view, combined with the long material historical perspective and the dialectical understanding of change and transformation through revolutionary leaps that the fullest scientific understanding can be built which can guide humanity through the Catastrophic breakdown being imposed by monopoly capitalism.
The proletariat, driven into the floor by crisis, must make use of that science to guide it (while itself increasingly being part of the struggle for understanding as Lenin understood, always consciously pushing working class membership of the Bolsheviks to the fore).
A crucial aspect is to take up and expose the revisionist retreats still hampering world class perspectives.
World revisionism is still positing the garbage theory of a “multi-polar” world in which collapsing imperialist aggression and dominance (which means only the US empire and its allies) would be “balanced out” by other world powers like China or the BRICS alliance.
Lenin’s understanding that the Catastrophe and its war consequences are unstoppable and inexorable is once again buried by a variation on Stalin’s impossible revisionist notions of “containing” imperialism and its war drive, misleading workers everywhere that there is a long distance “stability” that can be attained.
Fully elaborated with Stalin’s 1952 Economic Problems book this gibberish led the entire world communist movement into the soft-brained nonsenses of parliamentary roads and “No to War” pacifism which have seen disastrous consequences for the masses from the savagery of the Chilean coup in 1973, where a deluded working class was left vulnerable to CIA guided brutal counter-revolutionary violence because the assurances that progress could be achieved by a parliamentary majority for Salvador Allende’s socialist alliance, to the bloody mass killing overturn of the Arab Spring’s “new democracy” in Egypt by Western stooging military dictatorship coup in 2013 under General Sisi (and welcomed effectively by the Stalinists).
And plenty of similar such coups and counter-revolutionary were in train both before and after, the latest just this month in South America where “left” electoral successes have been either toppled or given serious warnings of counter-revolutionary turmoil to come (just as Allende’s government saw months, if not years of destabilisation by CIA organised demonstrations, trucking blockades (not by workers but petty bourgeois owner-drivers) and other deliberate disruption):
Fanatical supporters of Brazil’s outgoing president, Jair Bolsonaro, have torched cars and buses and tried to storm the federal police headquarters in the country’s capital in what one commentator called a botched attempt to spark a January 6-style turmoil.
The violence erupted on Monday evening after the leftwing politician who defeated Bolsonaro in October’s historic election – former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva – had his victory officially ratified by Brazil’s electoral court.
Several hours later, hardcore Bolsonaristas who want the result overturned rampaged through the heart of Brasília, after a member of their radical group was arrested for allegedly trying to incite violence that would prevent Lula from being sworn in on 1 January.
Reuters said witnesses saw extremists, many wearing the yellow Brazil shirts that symbolise the president’s far-right movement, confronting security forces outside a federal police headquarters. Police used stun grenades and teargas to disperse the crowd.
Footage posted on social media by bystanders and local journalists showed militant Bolsonaro supporters setting fire to a bus.
“The centre of Brasília … looks like a war zone,” tweeted Alan Rios, a reporter from the local news website Metropoles, alongside images of the destruction. “Torched buses and cars, destroyed buildings and signposts, rubbish bins and gas canisters littering the floor after being used as weapons,” Rios wrote.
The political commentator Thomas Traumann tweeted his condemnation, saying: “Bolsonarismo has gone from being a popular far-right movement to being a terrorist cell.”
“It’s an attempt at [replicating] the Capitol,” Traumann added in reference to the storming of the US legislature by hardcore Donald Trump supporters on 6 January 2021. “It won’t work but it’s an attempt.”
The outbreak of violence, which had reportedly subsided by Tuesday morning, has sparked fears there could be further upheaval in the lead-up to Lula’s inauguration. Hundreds of thousands of supporters are expected to attend the event, at which some of Brazil’s best-known artists will perform, including Pabllo Vittar, Paulinho da Viola, Martinho da Vila and Maria Rita.
The man Lula has named as his future justice minister, Flávio Dino, tried to reassure Brazilians on Monday night, telling reporters: “Are there, unfortunately, people who want anti-democratic and illegal chaos? Yes there are. But these people did not prevail today and they will not prevail tomorrow.”
The revolutionary pressure in Brazil has driven back Bolsonaro for the moment but Lula’s fake-“leftism” is being given due notice not to go too far.
He has already been subject to years of trickery and bourgeois skulduggery, stitched up in 2017 by astonishingly crude bogus charges of “corruption” by an utterly degenerate parliament itself saturated in outright corruption and sleaze, and by a guilty finding in a bent trial presided over by reactionary judge Sergio Moro who was later appointed Minister of Justice by near-fascist Jair Bolsonaro.
It was an outright judicial coup to block his re-election, by a ruling class desperate to halt the “left reformist” programme he began in 2003 and which was continued by his former deputy Dilma Rousseff, elected in 2010 after his term ended.
That charges were rescinded in 2021, allowing him to run again this year is not any signal of “justice eventually prevailing” or a signal of progress as idiot Stalinist revisionism sees it, declaring “Lula is back!” and that there was “much rejoicing.”
It is only an indication of the fearfulness of the bourgeois ruling class in the teeth of the rapidly intensifying crisis.
Their chosen reactionary Bolsonaro is such an extreme parody of bourgeois reaction – trying to save the bankrupt bourgeoisie by encouraging the corporate plunder of the country, including profit seeking destruction of the Amazon rain forests, while stepping up the repression and exploitation of the poverty stricken proletariat whose existence in the slum-favelas is already desperate – that the ruling class fears it will force the masses ever closer to a revolutionary explosion.
So they are letting the soft “left” Lula go free to try and head off the masses once again with more reformism, but firing warning shots of potential counter-revolution across his bows, to keep any “reforms” strictly contained.
The Stalinist Lalkar Proletarian correctly enough warns of “fears of a coup” but only as one “possibility”, rather than a racing certainty that the bourgeoisie will constantly attempt such overthrows and dictatorship violence.
The same pattern is repeated in Argentina to the south where “left” orientated government has also been sabotaged by a decade long campaign of disinformation and corruption charges by the reactionary bourgeoisie:
Argentina’s vice-president and former president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, has been sentenced to six years in prison and given a lifelong ban on holding public office after being found guilty in a $1bn fraud case related to public works.
Fernández de Kirchner – who was president of Argentina for two terms between 2007 and 2015 – was found guilty of fraud on Tuesday, though she is unlikely to serve any prison time soon as she has immunity due to her government roles and is expected to launch a lengthy appeals process that could take years.
A three-judge panel rejected a second charge of running a criminal organization, for which a guilty verdict could have taken her full sentence to 12 years in prison. The sentence marked the first time an Argentinian vice-president has been convicted of a crime while in office.
In a live stream after the verdict was announced, Fernández de Kirchner said that the charges against her were politically motivated. “It is clear that the idea was always to convict me,” she said. “This is a parallel state and mafia.”
Fernández de Kirchner – who many had expected to run for president next year – also said: “I won’t be a candidate for anything, not president, not senator. My name will not be on any ballot.”
The former president described the proceedings against her as “law-fare”, which political analysts in the region describe as a form of “political warfare” involving politicians, the judiciary and the media, usually with a view to smearing leftist leaders as corrupt.
The verdict is certain to deepen fissures in Argentina, where the 69-year-old populist dominates the political landscape and recently survived an assassination attempt after her assailant’s gun apparently jammed. Last month, Fernández de Kirchner compared her judges to a “firing squad”.
Fernández de Kirchner was accused of arranging for 51 public works contracts in the Patagonian province of Santa Cruz to be awarded to a company belonging to Lázaro Báez, a friend and business associate of Fernández and her late husband, former president Néstor Kirchner, who ruled Argentina from 2003-2007.
“I think this is an important judgment that shows the robbery there was in Argentina,” Patricia Bullrich, leader of the rightwing opposition party Republican Proposal (PRO) told the Guardian. “For years, [Fernández de Kirchner] has been trying to confuse corruption and robbery … with a political trial. A political trial is when someone is detained for their ideas. Here, there was concrete robbery.”
Prosecutors said the Báez company was created to embezzle revenues through false bidding processes for projects that suffered from cost overruns – and in many cases were never completed.
Báez, who was also sentenced to six years alongside Fernández de Kirchner, was convicted of money laundering in February 2021 and is currently under house arrest as he appeals against his conviction.
Fernández de Kirchner is a profoundly divisive figure in Argentinian politics. She and her husband were members of the so-called “pink tide” of leftwing presidents that ruled many Latin American countries at the start of the century, alongside figures such as Brazil’s Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Chile’s Michele Bachelet.
The Kirchners’ supporters credit them with implementing progressive economic policies that improved life for the poor and helped steer Argentina back to prosperity following a cataclysmic economic collapse in 2001 and 2002.[...]
These include accusations that she colluded with the Iranian government to cover up Tehran’s involvement a 1994 bomb attack, in which 85 people were killed at the AMIA Jewish cultural centre.
Kirchner’s accusations of lawfare coincide exactly with the rightwing conspiracy previously against Lula; they are stamped with the hallmarks of Washington manipulation and CIA coordinated counter-revolution to keep in line an increasingly rebellious Latin America, always regarded by US imperialism as its own backyard for rampant exploitation under the arrogant Monroe Doctrine.
That her “left” populism is no solution either to the problems facing the masses in Argentina, ripped apart by the crisis and currently teetering on the edge of civil war, is confirmed precisely by the dirty dealings against her, which have not stopped at bent legal and constitutional stitch up:
A man has been arrested after a handgun was aimed at point-blank range at Argentina’s vice-president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, in what the government described as an apparent assassination attempt.
Fernández de Kirchner survived only because the pistol – which was loaded with five bullets – did not fire, President Alberto Fernández said.
The incident, which Fernández de Kirchner appeared to endure unharmed, took place as she was greeting supporters outside her home in the Recoleta neighbourhood of Buenos Aires at 9pm on Thursday.
“A man pointed a firearm at her head and pulled the trigger,” the president said in a national broadcast. “Cristina is still alive because, for some reason yet to be confirmed, the gun … did not fire.”
He called it “the most serious incident since we recovered democracy” in 1983 and urged political leaders, and society at large, to repudiate the incident.
The Argentinian newspaper Clarín reported that a 35-year-old Brazilian man, who has lived in Argentina since 1993, had been arrested at the scene.
Thousands of Fernández’s supporters are expected to congregate in Buenos Aires’s famous Plaza de Mayo at midday on Friday to show their solidarity with the vice-president and their disgust at Thursday night’s events.
The dramatic events were captured by television cameras outside Fernández de Kirchner’s home, where supporters had been gathering for days to protest against corruption charges filed against her at court.
The footage shows a man pushing through supporters, raising a gun to Fernández de Kirchner’s face and apparently attempting a shot with the pistol, which seems to misfire. Some reports said the man pointed the gun at Fernández de Kirchner but did not fire. The two-time former president, Argentina’s leading political figure, can be seen reacting, covering her face and crouching down. She was reportedly unharmed.
The security minister, Aníbal Fernández, told local the cable news channel C5N that a man had been detained. “A person who was identified by those who were close to him who had a gun was detained by [the vice-president’s] security personnel. They set him aside, found the weapon, and now it must be analysed,” he said.
The level of verbal violence has grown alarmingly among opposition politicians in Argentina this year, mainly centred on corruption charges filed in court against Fernández de Kirchner. Some extreme opposition politicians have called for the death sentence to be reintroduced for the vice-president.
What the Argentinian masses need, like the working class everywhere is a revolutionary understanding, the core of which is to overturn, dispossess and suppress the demented and depraved ruling class with the armed class war struggle, imposing the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The lesson is being taught all across South and Central America where the so-called pink tide movement towards socialism was riding high in the 2000s - in Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Honduras, and most of all Venezuela - all turning around the decades of poverty and fascist repression from the beginning of the twentieth century.
But all of them refuse to learn the greatest lesson of the continent delivered by the Augusto Pinochet military coup in Chile in 1973 against the popularly (“democratically”) voted in Socialist Alliance of Salvador Allende – that until the bourgeois state is completely overturned and dismantled it will always conspire and plot to re-impose bourgeois dominance and exploitation, using whatever level of brutal violence, torture and killing, it calculates is necessary.
The reality is that there is only class dictatorship, either that of the bourgeoisie, hidden behind the pretence of “democracy” (cynically “re-established” since in Chile but still covering up nothing but the dominance of big billionaire industry and finance) or that of the working class, which must firmly suppress the counter-revolution for as long it takes to attain a classless society (generations).
If it can avoid too obviously imposing outright fascism the bourgeoisie will work instead with the manipulation of legal and constitutional mechanisms, and partial violence, as it has done since 2009, toppling the elected “lefts” one by one from Paraguay (2009) and Honduras, each by “legal” decisions and each blessed by Washington (under the “liberal” black and feminist presidency of Barack Obama), through to “left” indigenous leader Evo Morales in Bolivia in 2019 toppled by the military on yet another specious legality to reestablish rule by the racist/fascist elite (with backing from Washington dominated body the Organisation of American States).
Venezuela and Nicaragua hold on for the moment but not without seeing repeated failed coup attempts and deadly organised outbreaks of fascist street violence coordinated by the bourgeoisie, backed up by the brutal siege sanctions imposed by American dominated imperialism.
As elsewhere these outbursts and destabilisations always hide behind the pretence of demonstrating for “freedom”, which is only ever the individualist “freedom” of the well off and middle-class and is a complete lie - the desperation of the ruling class to hold power will drive it to ever greater depravity and ruthless trampling across the pretence of democracy when it can manage it and as it will repeatedly try until it succeeds.
Only the firmness of a working class dictatorship - replete with its own security forces (which of course includes “secret police” etc to track down counter-revolutionary plotting) will do to change things.
The dirty dealing of the bourgeoisie is again visible in Peru where the masses finally succeeded in electing a “left leaning” president 18 months ago. But corruption and bourgeois influence has constantly undermined all his work.
His attempt to cut through the sleaze and skulduggery using firmer powers has been turned against him, with the upside down propaganda of the imperialists painting him as “carrying out a coup” - for trying to do what he has been elected to do!
Ousted Peruvian president Pedro Castillo has derided his successor as a “usurper”, and vowed to continue as head of state as the death toll from growing protests against the new government of Dina Boluarte rose to seven.
Demonstrations in support of Castillo spread from city to city on the sixth day of unrest, with widespread vandalism and looting showing little sign of abating.
All the victims died in clashes with police as a result of gunshot wounds, six of them in the southern city of Andahuaylas, which became a hub for the protests. Five of those victims were aged 18 or under, according to Peru’s human rights ombudsman and the local hospital. Reports of children mourning their dead schoolmates emerged on social media.
Another death was reported in Peru’s second-largest city Arequipa, where demonstrators took control of the airport’s runway and vandalised the control tower. Airlines have cancelled flights to Arequipa and Cusco, Peru’s tourism capital, amid the unrest.
The head of the Peru ombudsman’s office, Eliana Revollar, said a total of seven people had died during two days of protests, all from gunshot wounds.
At least 15 police officers were injured, also in Andahuaylas, by an explosive device, according to the police, and local news reports showed images of several seriously injured officers being treated on a patio in the city’s overflowing hospital.
Dozens of roads have been blocked in 11 regions across a swathe of southern Peru, as well as large parts of the east and north of the country, according to the police.
Furious protesters in the capital Lima overturned vehicles and smashed windows of the offices of three media organisations that house four private television channels seen as hostile to Castillo during his 17 months in office.
In a handwritten letter from prison, Castillo derided his successor and vowed to continue as head of state and to not abandon his “high and sacred functions”.
In the letter posted on Castillo’s Twitter account on Monday, the former leader addressed the “great and patient Peruvian people”, saying he had been “humiliated, [kept] incommunicado, mistreated and kidnapped” but added he was “still clothed with your trust and struggle”. He dismissed his successor as the “snot and slobber of the coup-mongering right”.
The missive came five days after Castillo was removed from office and detained on charges of rebellion, following his attempt to shutter congress and rule by decree in an effort to avoid his third impeachment.
It came shortly after Boluarte gave in to protesters’ demands for early general elections amid escalating unrest in the country.
In a televised address earlier on Monday, Boluarte said she would submit a bill to bring general elections forward by two years, to April 2024, following days of violent protests across the country. But her proposal is unlikely to stop surging protests as Castillo supporters call for Peru’s widely loathed congress to be closed and for early elections to be held.
Amnesty International is calling on Peruvian authorities to avoid using excessive force in their response to the protests. “State repression against protesters is only deepening the crisis in Peru,” said the group’s Americas director Erika Guevara-Rosas.
Boluarte announced a state of emergency in the zones of “high social conflict” in the southern regions of Apurímac, Arequipa and Ica, where protesters angry at what they see as a coup by congress have blocked roads and closed two airports.
Protests were widespread in rural strongholds of support for Castillo, a former schoolteacher and political novice from a poor Andean region. On Sunday, congress stripped Castillo of presidential immunity as he faces charges of “breaching the constitution”.
The demonstrators accuse Boluarte – Castillo’s former vice-president who was sworn in just hours after he was ousted – of betraying the former leader and usurping the presidency. Protesters in the capital, Lima, joined thousands across the country in clashing with riot police, who used teargas and baton charges to push them back.
“We don’t agree with the way our president was ousted, with lies and trickery,” said Laura Pacheco, a Castillo supporter protesting in San Martín square in downtown Lima.
“[Boluarte] doesn’t deserve to be president, she hasn’t been elected by the people. We are defending our democratic rights, we don’t want to be governed by a usurper,” she added.
Lucía, who did not want to give her last name, was among hundreds of horn-blaring, flag-waving protesters calling for Boluarte and the deeply unpopular congress to go. “We want the congress to be shut down, we want new elections for Peru, where the people can choose who governs them,” she said.
“Castillo tried to shut down congress because that’s what the people wanted. It’s a viper’s nest!” she added, highlighting the widely held view that the unicameral congress is a venal hub of vested interests and corruption.
While virtually all the protesters called for the shutdown of congress, some held placards calling Castillo a “national hero” – not because of his governance but because he attempted to close the hated chamber, which has been consistently more despised than a long roster of unpopular former Peruvian presidents.
Eighty-six per cent of Peruvians disapprove of congress, more than the 61% disapproval rating for Castillo, according to a November opinion poll by the Institute of Peruvian Studies. The same poll indicated that the vast majority of Peruvians, 87%, would prefer fresh general elections and a renewed congress in the event that Castillo was ousted.
“The crisis has not abated,” said Fernando Tuesta, a political science professor at Lima’s Pontifical Catholic University and former head of Peru’s electoral authority.
Castillo’s problem is not his popularity levels but the failure to give the masses the understanding they need to carry through their protest and upheaval into the revolutionary overturn of the entire system.
Without it they are constantly prey to the lies and illusions of bourgeois propaganda; as is the working class everywhere.
Even greater confusion is currently being spread over the now revolutionary turmoil in Haïti, one of the poorest and most benighted places on the planet. Typical is a “liberal” Guardian account, forced to concede points about repeated imperialist interventions and coups over decades (from supporting the vicious tonton macoutes terror dictatorships of the Duvalier father and son - “Papa” and “Baby” Doc to repeatedly toppling “left” reformism under Father Jean-Bertrand Aristide) all described with the usual petty bourgeois prevarication as “alleged” US manipulation.
But this sly account denouncing the revolutionary movement arising there as just “gangsterism” excuses the stooge regime’s reactionary calls for yet more foreign intervention (meaning proxy US invasion) behind the weasel phrase “forced to”:
as my taxi weaved through Port-au-Prince, the sight of mountains of rubble lining every street was overwhelming. Makeshift tents occupied every space. It was 2012, two years after a 35-second tremor from a 7.0 magnitude earthquake left an estimated 220,000-316,000 people dead and another 300,000 injured. Some 1.5 million were made homeless in one of the deadliest natural disasters in the world. Poor construction practices and high population density were blamed for the astonishing fatalities.
Fast forward to December 2022 and Haiti is rocked by a different disaster, a perfect storm of violence, poverty, corruption and poor governance, all built on foundations of slavery, colonialism, brutality and exploitation.
The head of the World Food Programme in Haiti, Jean-Martin Bauer, said this week that, with gangs in control, the country faces an unprecedented crisis and could soon see famine. Haiti has run aground.
The streets are owned by heavily armed criminals, while the law enforcement agencies are underequiped, undermanned and undermotivated. Kidnapping is a business model, with more than 1,500 recorded in the last 18 months. Any available fuel sells on the black market at more than $35 a gallon. Food is a desperate challenge for most.
To fully understand a nation’s anguish, examine its history. What has been done to Haiti in the name of “the race for wealth” is the deepest wound to the Caribbean.
The slave trade brought Christopher Columbus in 1492 to the west coast of Hispaniola, then called Ayiti and inhabited by the Taíno people. Columbus renamed the island and claimed it for Spain. Then the French settled to the west and called it Saint-Domingue. By 1767, sugar, coffee, indigo and cotton were booming the economy for the Europeans, as Haiti’s labour accounted for a third of the transatlantic slave trade.
Inspired by the French Revolution, in 1791 the enslaved people rose in revolt, a struggle that continued for just over 12 years, despite invasions by the British, Spanish and French, and led to the creation of Haiti, the first independent black republic outside Africa. It was the world’s only successful slave revolt with the indomitable Louverture defeating the Napoleonic armies. His general, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, authorised a constitution calling for freedom of religion, for all citizens to be known as “black” to dispel colour hierarchy, and for white men to be forbidden from possessing property.
In 1825, France, backed by several warships, demanded from Haiti 150m francs as indemnity for claims over the loss of property during the revolution and, in addition, for diplomatic recognition as an independent state. Reparations for the loss of their “property” – their slaves.
The debt choked Haiti’s economic development as interest mounted, snatching a significant share of GDP and restricting development. Haiti was forced to take loans from Crédit Industriel et Commercial bank, enriching French shareholders. The remainder of Haiti’s debt was financed by the National City Bank of New York, now Citibank, and, in 1915, US President Woodrow Wilson responded to complaints from US banks about Haiti’s debts by invading. Never had a country been invaded for debts owing. That occupation lasted until 1934, deeply resented by Haitians who staged numerous revolts. France only repealed the debt in 2016, however no reparations were forthcoming despite being the root cause of Haiti’s decimation.
Haiti has produced a portentous rogues’ gallery of leaders and coups d’état. From 1911 to 1915, there were six different presidents, each either killed or forced into exile. But the most notorious in the island’s history was François Duvalier or “Papa Doc”, elected in 1957. His regime came to be regarded as one of the most repressive in modern history and, after his death in 1971, his son, Jean-Claude or “Baby Doc”, presided over Haiti’s further economic and political decline. The first democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, faced two coups d’état, undone by the second in 2004 and alleged to be US-backed.
US involvement was seen again in Jovenel Moïse, elected in 2016, whose links, along with predecessor Michel Martelly, to grand corruption in the Petrocaribe scandal brought unrest and protest again to Haiti’s streets. That same year, Hurricane Matthew hit the island, causing more than 500 deaths, a cholera outbreak and destruction of over 200,000 homes.
Moïse’s presidential term ended in assassination in July 2021, followed by another natural disaster in August 2021 when a 7.2 earthquake struck. It killed more than 2,200 people.
This year has brought more storms and more cholera. Violence has intensified with rival gangs fighting for control in Cité Soleil, the most impoverished and densely populated neighbourhood in Port-au-Prince. Thousands have been affected, afraid to leave their homes for food or water. Many have been killed by stray bullets. One week in July left 89 dead.
In October, the acting president, Ariel Henry, was forced to plead for the deployment of foreign troops to oppose the gangs and the anti-government demonstrations.
Now Haiti is an “aid state”, almost totally dependent on foreign governments and institutions and remittances from the diaspora. Its underdevelopment can be attributed to corruption and geopolitical manipulation.
The longsuffering but resilient Haitian people have been victims of centuries of corrupt dictatorial governments. The fortunate have fled Haiti, contributing to a debilitating brain drain. The complicity of the colonists and successive French governments have been fundamental to Haiti’s demise, and the US’s neocolonialist role in enforcing debt repayments and the subsequent 19-year annexation of Haiti’s sovereignty is nothing short of diabolical.
... The propensity of the US to prop up strongmen contributed over and over to the sad state of Haiti, and let’s not forget the opportunistic siphoning of aid by the very agencies that collected donations from around the world.
What can be done to fix Haiti? The answer lies in forming a government of integrity and substance without allegiance to any gangs. Eradicating Port-au-Prince of the violence means severing existing ties between gangs, politicians and law enforcement. A robust anti-corruption unit with muscle, a reformed police service and legislative arm is fundamental. Aid must be conditional on showing intent to rebuild a modern nation from ground up. Above all, Haiti cannot be held to ransom by the US’s whims any longer.
In 2013, I travelled to another area of the island and swam in a sulphur spring in the ocean a few metres from shore. I ate the best seafood I have ever had, prepared by the warmest people I have ever met. For that moment this could have been any stable Caribbean island.
“Which was nice” as the Fast Show’s smug petty bourgeois used to say. But this twisted account fraudulently purporting “left” sympathy makes sure to poison minds against the really interesting development, that of spontaneous revolutionary organisation on the ground, here labelled as just “another gang” among the brutal kidnapping and real gangsterism, while once more propping up the “democracy fraud”.
But the G9 federation of local self-defence forces is the very opposite as some more honest reporting from Internet sites like Redacted and Uncaptured Media suggest, showing the leader Jimmy Chérizier to have a clear perspective of revolution (as local paper Haïti Liberté has attempted to analyse - see EPSR No 1613 16-07-22 Socialist Review).
Whether that translates into a Leninist firmness remains to be seen – and if it does Chérizier will need to watch his back.
But this bourgeois press report is typical of the devious way the wool is pulled over the eyes by bourgeois propaganda, made easier by long decades of revisionist cretinism.
Meanwhile the biggest stinking lies of all continue to our out over the Kiev fascists and the depraved war they have been waging both for and with Western imperialism, their fascist atrocities not only ignored as they have been since the Nazi regime (installed by Western coup in 2014) started waging its war on the Donbass eight years ago but glorified.
Latest sick admissions include former German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cynical admission that the Minsk peace settlement was always to be torn up by the West, signed only to “buy time” for the Kiev Nazis to organise their military, and the British Commando leader General Robert Magowan’s admission that British forces are directly involved on the ground, both diplomatically and legally unacceptable and constituting de facto British warmongering against Russia (to be further analysed).
The world imperialist system slides ever deeper into slump, war disaster and ecological collapse but the only path forwards for mankind is blocked by the still persisting stupidities, naïveté and opportunism of reformism and revisionist politics.
Until the nettle is grasped that an entirely new way of organising and running human society is required, not “improvements”, “fightbacks” “better representation”, or “fairer shares” the now gross degeneration into slump poverty and inequality, fascism, universal surveillance, and worldwide butchering will not only continue but get far worse.
Capitalism and its competitive “entrepreneurship” once drove human development, brutally and piratically, but on a path out of feudal superstition and intellectual stagnation towards rationality and reason.
But its class divided profit and greed system has reached the end of the road and is heading only for chaos and breakdown.
Which is to say, the world needs urgently to get back on a path of revolutionary Marxist-Leninist understanding.
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